What a week! I am chapter President of the faculty union here, and we had five faculty lay offs this week. It made for a rough week, full of meetings, deliberations on how to respond, and, of course, intense meetings with some of the people affected. Hard to be in the holiday spirit. In all, over a dozen people on campus lost their jobs.
50,000 lost their jobs at Citibank, 30,000 at Bank of America, and comparatively the loses here were minor. Moreover, I was never in any danger, so the tension people felt upon hearing that cuts were coming wasn’t as intense. My job was more to be there for people, to learn the contract, and try to make sure everyone is treated fairly.
The university is also going to go through “transformational change.” Although some people are very angry about this, most seem to realize that the world we’re in now is not the same world as a few years ago. The University of Maine system is unsustainable as it’s currently structured. In this there is an opportunity to shape the change into something positive; that opportunity doesn’t exist, though, for those who are leaving.
Unemployment is rising, and the cost of this crisis is starting to be felt at every level. The events of this week give me a taste of what this means in human terms. Not only those affected, but the entire campus was impacted by the shock of the cuts, plus far more feared they were on “the list” when word came out that cuts were coming.
I know have a stack of papers to grade, a winter course to prepare for, and am worn out by the week. So I apologize for not posting more.
I’ve been an economic Cassandra for so long that for awhile I got a sense of satisfaction that I was being proven right. That sense is gone. This economy hits people in real ways. One can only feel good about having been right if one can detach oneself from the reality of the conditions around us. That misplaced detachment is gone.